Deacons R Us? Acts 6:1-6; 1 Tim. 3:8-13
It’s time for us to DECONSTRUCT CHURCH, to reexamine the point of church in Jesus’ own words, from Paul’s direct statements as to the meaning of church.
What is the church?
A field to be cultivated; a Building to be Inhabited; a Household to be protected; a family to be nurtured; a people who proclaim; a flock to be fed; a Body to express the will of Christ; members & parts of a whole; WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST!
What makes us a part of the church? A common faith, a common life; a common confession
What does “membership” mean? Or, Should we “join” a church?
The NT assumes that all believers are “members” of the congregation where they worship.
We are NOT customers or consumers, but members…
How do we experience “life together”? a common transparency; common commitments
o Use the spiritual gifts God has given to build up the body (1 Cor. 12:7).
o Live out the Mission of God
o Submit to the church’s leadership and teaching (Heb 13:17).
o Promote unity in the body (Eph. 4:3).
o Financially support the church’s work (Gal. 6:6).
“Engaging membership” means at least these five things:
• Be in transparent relationships with other church members in which they care for, encourage, rebuke, teach, and learn from each other (Eph. 4:15-16).
• Submit to the church’s leadership and teaching (Heb. 13:17).
• Promote unity in the body (Eph. 4:3).
“being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
• Financially support the common service efforts (Gal. 6:6).
• Use the spiritual gifts God has given them to build up the body however they can (1 Cor. 12:7).
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Last week, Mike: your church leaders in the past might have been autocratic, or bunglers, or too-sweet to be effectively protect the church, or ministry divas who are self-absorbed. Lots of examples of poor leadership.
We must avoid the extremes of severe criticism or disengagement.
The problem is NOT leadership, but BAD church leadership.
No Leader is indispensable, but leadership is.
Every pastor is a shepherd; but NOT every shepherd is a pastor.
Shepherds exist so that the church will be full of mature disciples of Jesus.
Today, we are DECONSTRUCTING CHURCH with a word about MINISTRY; another word for ministry is SERVice…Both of these words translate the Greek word-root, diakonos; we transliterate DEACON, one who serves. I want to answer three questions:
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT DEACONS?
WHAT IS A DEACON?
WHAT DO I DO, THEN?
1. Why should I care about deacons?
a. These ministry qualifications for deacons are also maturity distinctives.
b. God is concerned about function; we are concerned about form.
c. We are all called to serve!
i. I Peter 4:10-11
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
ii. Two sorts of gifts: speaking and serving.
iii. Luke quotes the apostles, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” or, the SERVICE OF THE WORD.
2. What is a deacon?
Acts 6--“Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. “But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. “But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.”
a. Acts 6:1-6—
i. the term “deacon” does not occur here.
EBC, Ralph Earle--Although the term deacon is not used in this connection, it would seem that these men were the forerunners of the deacons in the church.
ii. The word “the serving” does in verse 1: διακονίᾳ
EBC, Ralph Earle--The simple meaning of this word is “servant,” and it is used that way many times in the Gospels. Specifically, it was used by Josephus and other writers of that period for those who wait on tables.
Robert Banks, IVP Dictionary of Paul and His Letters
Emphasis upon Function rather than Position. Alongside the verb serve (diakoneō), or its nominal form servant (diakonos), verbs rather than nouns tend to be used more frequently of those making a fundamental contribution to the church. This means that it is the functions people perform rather than the positions they occupy which is crucial.
iii. In verse 2: infinitive or verbal form does: διακονεῖν
Walter G. Hansen, IVP Dictionary of the Later New Testament
3.5. Emphasis upon Function rather than Position. Alongside the verb serve (diakoneō), or its nominal form servant (diakonos), verbs rather than nouns tend to be used more frequently of those making a fundamental contribution to the church. This means that it is the functions people perform rather than the positions they occupy which is crucial.
iv. So that we (elders & apostles) may devote ourselves to the ministry (διακονίᾳ) of the Word
1 Tim 3:8ff: “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”
b. 1 Timothy 3:8-13
i. A man or a woman
ii. A position or a function
NIBC, GORDON D. FEE The word diakonos, in fact, is a favorite of Paul’s to describe his own and his fellow workers’ ministries (e.g., 1 Cor. 3:5; 2 Cor. 3:6; Rom. 16:1; Col. 1:23; 4:7) and is so used of Timothy in 4:6. However, as with “prophet” and “teacher,” the word seems to fluctuate between an emphasis on a function and a description of a position; by the time of Philippians it describes an “office” (Phil. 1:1), whereas in the relatively contemporary Ephesians and Colossians diakonos still describes a function. Here, as in Philippians 1:1, it refers to a position of some kind.
iii. To be tested, then recognized
Renn, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words
δοκιμάζω dokimazō is a verb found nearly thirty times, with the principal meanings “prove,” “approve,” “discern.” In several places, however, the meaning “examine” is evident. (APPROVE)
The action of “examining” one’s newly-acquired oxen is noted in Luke 14:19. The exhortation to let a person “examine” himself or herself prior to taking the Lord’s Supper is recorded in 1 Cor. 11:28. Another exhortation to “test” or “examine” oneself to see if one is holding to the faith is noted in 2 Cor. 13:5. See also Gal. 6:4; 1 Thess. 5:21. The “testing” or “examining” of potential deacons to determine their suitability for office is indicated in 1 Tim. 3:10. The charge to “test” or “examine” the spirits to see whether they are of God is found in 1 John 4:1.
Psa. 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
Psa. 19:8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
iv. A person of character, “above reproach”
Above Reproach: Renn, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words
ἀνέγκλητος anenklētos is an adjective found in five places meaning “blameless,” or unable to be accused. Such is the moral destiny of the people of God, made possible by the work and person of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 1:8; Col. 1:22). It is also the quality required of spiritual leaders in the local congregation of believers (cf. 1 Tim. 3:10; Titus 1:6, 7).
2. Not double-tongued—not “two-worded” says the same thing in every circumstance—integrity is our word
3. Not addicted to much wine—lots to avoid, no means to escape
4. Not fond of sordid gain—money hungry; cf. 1 Tim 6; greedy; contrast with 3:3 for elders—not envious
5. Holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience
EBC, Ralph Earle ‘mystery’ In the NT it signifies the secret of salvation through Jesus Christ, which is revealed by the Holy Spirit to all who will believe. Today the word mystery implies knowledge withheld; in the Bible it indicates truth revealed.
Gordon Fee-- as 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 makes plain, it refers to the essential truth of the gospel, especially the saving character of Christ’s death, which was once hidden (in God) but now revealed by the Spirit…
6. Husband of only one wife
7. Good managers of their children and households—APPROPRIATE HOME LIFE; not without conflict, but skilled at conflict management.
8. Women: add not malicious gossips, temperate, faithful
Why should I care?
What is a deacon? ONE WHO SERVES The Body of Christ
3. What should I then do?
a. Look to Jesus, who said he came to serve.
Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His 1life a ransom for many.”
i. The One whom we will serve for all eternity said that he came here to serve first.
ii. He served until the end.
iii. As we look to Christ, the Spirit of Christ promises to reconstruct us into the character of Jesus.
1. The Spirit will make us Servants.
2. When the Spirit makes a servant, that servant serves to the end.
b. Identify your own gifts for serving.
i. Look to the Word for definitions: Eph. 4; Romans 12
ii. Practice those gifts till the end.
i. If you find yourself walking away from a worship service with a list of all the things that didn’t work that day, then you can be fairly certain that you are NOT PRACTICING YOUR GIFTS, you have disengaged from ministry, YOU HAVE BECOME A CONSUMER of church, a customer only.
ii. If you ask yourself the question: WHY DON’T THEY…? You are probably DISENGAGED.
iii. If you ask yourself a different question: HOW MIGHT I…? you are on the road to ENGAGMENT, and the Spirit of Christ is guiding you, energizing you, and will empower you to…
iv. Identify your part, as Jesus took up his role…
v. Step up to do your part, as Jesus laid aside his former role…
vi. Serve until you can’t, as Jesus served until his ascension.
Psa. 16:11 You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Psa. 17:15 As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;